Thursday, 26 March 2015

One Seam Skirt Explained

After last week's post on the 1950's one seam skirt pattern, I received several comments and emails from readers all intrigued to know how such a skirt is put together. So I've written a post about it. with photos of the pattern pieces and a few crazy reconstructions. Interested? Then read on! 


The pattern is this one - Simplicity 3983 from 1952 - which I bought immediately after seeing Kerry's first version a couple of years ago (she's made a couple more since then too!) The pattern has one main skirt piece which is cut on the fold. The other pattern pieces are a waistband and two-piece hip pockets.  The skirt has no side seams, so hip/bum shaping is given by the two darts on either side of the centre back seam.

For the purposes of this step-by-step, I've made up a teeny, tiny skirt to demonstrate how the pieces go together. I haven't scaled down the pieces perfectly, but it will give you a good idea of how the skirt is constructed. The elf-sized skirt is made up without a waistband (I couldn't be bothered to add one if you must know) but the original skirt does have one.

Main pattern pieces: skirt front/back, pocket and pocket yoke

Skirt piece opened out

First the back darts are sewn.

Darts from right side

The pockets are then stitched to the front curved edges, curves clipped and a snip made into the corner.



This is to allow the curves to turn under neatly to the inside of the skirt like this:



The pocket yoke is then sewn to the skirt and pocket.



On the original pattern, the pocket piece is longer and should be folded up and attached to the yoke like this:


Here's what the skirt now looks like from the front.


With a close up of the hip pocket.


The pucker on the pocket edge is only there because the pattern pieces aren't perfectly drafted. And because I made the entire tiny skirt in about 15 minutes…

Now we get to sew that famous one seam! Please note that in the pattern there would also be a zip attached at the top of this seam after the notch. For this post, I've just sewn the seam all the way to the top.

There's the ONE seam, on the right hand side!

In the normal course of events, you'd now add a waistband but for the purposes of this demonstration, we're done!  Here's the skirt from the back. The proportions are a bit out, so the pockets shouldn't come quite so far round the back of the skirt.


And one from the front…



And one with a spool of thread included as a size reference, just to show you how twitchy the skirt is!



I do love this pattern, it's so well constructed and easy to sew. The pockets are a bit fiddly, but for me, they were the detail that drew me to the skirt in the first place, so they're well worth the effort. I hope that's explained things a bit clearer, and please do shout if you have any other questions.

Have a great day! x

40 comments:

  1. Nice explanation, I commend your dedication to make a teeny skirt. The pattern does seem to attract a lot of interest doesn't it?

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    1. I know, it really does! And I don't need much of an excuse to make a teeny skirt! x

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  2. Thank you for showing us how this skirt pattern works. I've often wondered but was too shy to ask! Love the little skirt you made too - very helpful. :)

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  3. Thank you so much for my 'lightbulb' moment. It is one of those things that is so simple when you know how, but puzzling otherwise! Thank you also for taking the time to do this, generous of you and very clear instructions too. I shall be drafting a toile [can't get the pattern] to see if I can incorporate these pockets - they look interesting and fun to do.

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    1. Oh good, glad it's helped. Good luck with your drafting! x

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  4. Such interesting construction! Thanks for sharing, Jane.

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    1. The construction IS interesting, and so easy once you know how! x

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  5. I have made this pattern up and was quite astonished at how shallow the pockets were. Make sure you double check the depth of the pockets before cutting. No fun to piece together such a fun pattern and barely be able to stick a hand in those fabulous pockets.

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    1. Yes, I was surprised at how shallow they were too. I was forewarned when I made my first version as Kerry had to make hers deeper too. I talk about it here http://www.handmadejane.co.uk/2012/10/polka-dot-one-seam-skirt.html
      Can't remember how much I lengthened them though, maybe about two inches? Thanks for the reminder. X

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  6. Brilliant tutorial Jane - thank you! The thread threw me for a moment, until I got my brain into gear and realised that it was the skirt that was titchy, not the thread gigantic! I'm easily bamboozled just now. P x

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    1. That's hilarious! The finished skirt doesn't look that small in the pictures though....until you see the picture with the reel of thread! x

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  7. Great share! I wanted to ask you, I haven't used a sewing machine in years. I went to school for Fashion Design but never fully pursued it. I use to make stuff for my home and my daughter when she was younger and used a Singer brand. What sort of machine would you suggest I get now? I would very much so love to get back to my sewing and creating things for myself and my home. Thanks for any suggestions in advance :)

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    1. I've only ever had one machine, which is a basic Janome model (J-20 or something like that). It's been a real workhorse: I've made all my clothes for the past five years on it as well as hundreds of items to sell at craft fairs and it's never let me down. I don't know anything about any other brands I'm afraid. x

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  8. Thank you Jane. Fab photos, fab mini skirt. I may have to draft one now....?

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    1. You should definitely give it a go! x

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  9. Hi Jane, what a wonderful skirt pattern. Do you know if it is possible to get the pattern and where? Thank you.

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    1. The only copy of the pattern I can find at the moment is this one on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/164357212/vintage-50s-womens-skirt-sewing-pattern?ref=sr_gallery_3&ga_search_query=simplicity+3983&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery

      It's a very small size though, so unless you have a tiny waist, you may need to scale it up. x

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    2. Thank you Jane. I do not have a tiny waist so I will learn to scale up before purchasing it. Thanks again.

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  10. Jane - you are talented. This is beautifully clear, clean and concise. And what a genius design! Makes me want to go out and make one!

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    1. Thank you! The design is fab isn't it? And so satisfying to make! x

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  11. Very cool! So fun to see how some of these vintage patterns are put together. Oh the possibilities darts can give!

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    1. I know, darts are wonderful things! x

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  12. That is so kind of you to take the time to do this, Jane. Thank you! I'm really inspired to hunt down that pattern now. (I'm sure you don't have a "mouse in your house" BUT....if you did.....she could be a really well dressed mouse!) Thanks again!

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    1. My pleasure! And let's just say if there was a mouse in my house, I certainly wouldn't be making her skirts! x

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  13. Thanks for showing the pattern. That is the neatest skirt I've seen lately.

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    1. You're welcome. It's a great skirt isn't it?! x

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  14. thanks for this, very interesting and such a lovely skirt.

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    1. My pleasure, glad you like it! x

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  15. Eureka- that all makes total sense now and I want that pattern!!!

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    1. It's pretty obvious once you've seen how it fits together! x

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  16. This is brilliant! Have got the pattern so this will help me so much. The one I have is a bit small so I will need to size it up an inch or two but I am hoping it will be easy enough. Thank you Jane. Grace

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    1. Oh good, glad it's helped you! I think it would be pretty straight forward to size the pattern up. I had to increase the waist on mine - super easy, just lengthened the waistband. You might want to lengthen the pockets too, they're tiny! x

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  17. Yes, this is very intriguing! Thank you sooo much for this, as now I, too, might try drafting a version! Very kind ; ) Jen

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  18. This is great Jane , thanks. Is there any way of getting hold of the pattern? Only one tiny size on ebay. Wouldn't have a clue aboit drafting, sadly!

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  19. Thank you, Jane. That's such an intriguing pattern. I'm not a skirt lover, by any stretch of the imagination, but it's tempting to try to put together an attempt at a pattern like that.

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  20. Whoa! What a fun thing to sew up! Thanks for taking the time to photograph this- it's really cool to see how it comes together!

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  21. Thank you for writing this post! I am in the middle of making a similar skirt from a Silver Scissors pattern book. This book has no instructions whatsoever, so it is very helpful to see how everything is supposed to go together.

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